VALHALLA, N.Y. - Joy Degl of Mahopac was one of three former Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital patients who served as ambassadors to the 2018 “Go the Distance” Walk and Family Fun Day on Sunday, Sept. 16.

The weather was perfect, and everyone got to enjoy complimentary food and drinks, bounce houses, face painting, games and more.

Joy was born 17 weeks early back in 2012 and only weighed 1 pound and 4 ounces and was only 11 3/4- inches long at birth. She was born prematurely because of her mother’s severe case of placenta percreta that prevented her from carrying her to term.

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Joy spent 121 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and endured many procedures to keep her alive.

“It was a painful time, but we are happy to report that Joy just started kindergarten and aside from suffering from some lung issues related to her premature birth, she is doing very well,” said Jennifer Degl, Joy’s mom and a teacher at Mahopac High School.

Since Joy’s discharge, Jennifer Degl has written two books and started a business dedicated to advocating and spreading education on maternal and neonatal health issues.

“We started Team from Hope To Joy five years ago after I published my first book about my pregnancy and Joy’s time in the NICU,” she said. “The goal of my first book was to raise awareness and educate people on premature births and the goal of our team is to raise money for the hospital that saved her life and continues to save many more children every year.”

The team raised more than $7,300 for the hospital.

“Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital is really our community’s hospital because any child diagnosed with a major illness or one that sustains a major injury will be transferred there for care,” Degl said.

All money raised goes to support innovation, equipment, staffing, and activities to support families with children in the hospital. You can still donate under Team from Hope to Joy by visiting http://bit.ly/HopeToJoy2018.

To learn more about premature births, and advocacy issues in both maternal and neonatal health, please visit Jennifer’s website at www.speakingformomsandbabies.com.